Case Study: Red Cross Portugal selling ‘hope’ for the holidays

In our AnxietyIndex Quarterly report on hope-fueled vs. fear-fueled brands “What Hope-Fueled Markets Can Teach Brands,” we urged brands to return to the core value of hope. More brands are doing this in the emerging markets of Brazil, India and China than in developed markets, which tend to be more fear-fueled than hope-fueled. Marketers from Coca-Cola in Spain to Havaianas in Brazil have sold hope as a way to overcome adversity and fend off anxiety.

Before Christmas last year, as consumers tightened their wallets, the Red Cross in Portugal decided to sell hope in a literal way. In a popular mall in Lisbon, it opened a store where little cards promoting “hope” were clipped onto hangers and stocked on shelves, just as normal goods would be; the cards sold for 10 euros apiece. “Hope” was positioned as a gift alternative for the holidays, a product that people can’t hold in their hands but can feel emotionally. Shoppers could get the satisfaction that comes with both a mall transaction and the act of giving.

It was a success—hundreds of people attended the opening night, and in its first day the store achieved a place in the mall’s top 10 for sales. The Red Cross extended the stores’ hours as well as its closing date. And the store not only helped raise immediate funds but boosted awareness for the Red Cross.

Where its messaging could have played on the guilt of previously generous patrons, the Red Cross spoke in a voice of optimism. A hope-fueled approach can only benefit nonprofits and regular marketers alike as another challenging holiday season approaches.

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